(Almost) new year, new Jin. As of Tuesday, Dec. 12., the BTS member born Kim Seok-jin has officially enlisted in the South Korean military to complete the country’s mandatory service requirement for men over the age of 18.
The singer made the official-unofficial announcement on WeVerse on Sunday, sharing a selfie with a fresh buzzcut ahead of his enlistment captioned: “Cuter than expected.” On Tuesday, he left ARMY with a parting message: “It’s curtain call time.”
According to the Defense Ministry, Jin is expected to serve through June 2024, months before BTS is expected to end their current hiatus and reassemble in 2025. The mandatory service length falls between 18 and 21 months. As the oldest member of the group, having turned 30 years old earlier this month, Jin is the first to begin his service, following two years of exceptions that allowed him to circumvent the requirement to enlist by age 28.
“We are shocked [that it happened] so quickly and see he cut his hair yesterday,” a BTS fan who turned up at Jin’s enlistment told the New York Times. “I’m very, very sad and finally realized this is real.”
HYBE, the label behind BTS, issued a statement stating that Jin would not stop to engage with any fans or members of the press at the enlistment grounds out of respect for the other soldiers being sent off by their friends and family. It added: “The agency will not spare its efforts and continued support until the day Jin fulfills his military service duties and returns in good health.”
Earlier this year, Busan mayor Park Heong-joon proposed alternative duties for BTS that would circumvent their requirement to enlist, though they were shot down. But in statements issued via HYBE and Big Hit Entertainment in October, the band expressed an honor to complete their service.
“I think the country sort of told me, ‘You’re doing this well, and we will give you a little bit more time,’” Jin told Rolling Stone last year. Military service, he added, is “an important duty for our country. So I feel that I will try to work as hard as I can and do the most I can until I am called.”